Cornerstones Residential Treatment Program
Located in Haverhill, MA, Cornerstones Residential 766 approved School is designed for children (boys and girls) ages 6-12 who require intensive psychiatric and educational treatment. Lengths of stay are determined by need with a range of between 9 months and 2 years. Most children referred have abuse histories and have experienced multiple hospitalizations resulting in multiple diagnosis and medication trials. Children referred are often in need of the opportunity to stabilize in a long-term setting that allows intensive treatment with consistent and skilled care-giving specialists to take place. Families are often in need of support, a place to heal and make familial changes that will allow them to parent a child with SED (Severe Emotional Disturbance).
Cornerstones Residential School specializes in the treatment of the following diagnoses:
Work with Family of Origin
The family is considered a vital part of the multi-disciplinary team and in fact are the child's treatment team. The professionals at Cornerstones are here to guide and support the family in making shifts in their family system and in helping the family make good treatment decisions about their child. A Family Treatment Contract is designed with the family prior to intake detailing the goals for the family and how the work will be done. This contract must be completed before an intake can be scheduled. Cornerstones offers an open door policy to caregivers where protective concerns do not exist. Parents and Caretakers may visit any time and without a scheduled appointment. They are encouraged to participate in activities in both the milieu and school including meal times which are a special time for the community to gather and share a meal. Clinicians work closely with families to set goals and provide treatment so that families are better able to manage the needs of a special needs child and live together with greater stability. Cornerstones will also facilitate supervised phone calls and visits so that families may have contact when contact must be closely monitored.
Work with pre-adoptive and Foster Families
Work with pre-adoptive and foster care families may also be facilitated by the Cornerstones Treatment Team allowing for the most appropriate discharge option when the student is ready. The therapist and childcare staff will work closely with the new family to help the child and family get to know each other and begin to establish a relationship. Key aspects of the child's treatment and ability to attach will be shared and explored with this new family unit. Cornerstones has experienced much success in completing this work with children whose case managers never thought could connect with a family. We are particularly skilled in doing this work quickly and efficiently while also understanding that the work must be done or the pre-adoptive home or foster home could fail.
Work with Adoptive families
More and more families are using our expertise to treat children who were adopted. Children from other countries whose early beginnings were spent without a primary caretaker and children who were adopted through state protective agency can experience great difficulty as they connect and try to bond with their adoptive family. Cornerstones has been successful in working with these families allowing children to only spend minimal time in residential care.
Our Mission and Treatment Philosophy
The Mission of the Cornerstones School is to serve the educational, developmental and rehabilitative needs of emotionally disturbed youths with special education needs in a safe, structured, relationship intensive setting that employs Multidisciplinary resources to help students and families learn, grow and heal.
The Treatment Philosophy at Cornerstones is built on several assumptions. The first is that all youths have talents, and the capacity to learn and build on their core strengths.
The second assumption is that all children need attachments to benevolent parent figures in order to feel safe, secure and loved. Ideally, this describes the parent-child bond. It is very difficult for a child to find a good reason to grow up and be well when the child feels alone and abandoned.
Thirdly, it takes a team of skilled and dedicated multi-disciplinary staff to assist emotionally disturbed children. Children learn from their relationships with adults, caregivers, and peers. The Cornerstones staff shapes relationships by providing children with specific corrective cognitive and emotional experiences. Remedial coaching gives students a second chance to master key developmental milestones.
A multi-disciplinary staff team formulates, executes and evaluates clinical treatment and education for each student. The staff is made up of therapists, certified teachers, psychiatric nurses, child psychiatrist, house counselors, speech and occupational therapists. Involved parents are also part of the treatment team and participate in planning and review meetings.
The program also recognizes the value of play and exposure to the world. Children enjoy community events and experiences just as they would if living at home. Horseback riding, outdoor games, art, music, groups, movies, carnivals, swimming and trips to shopping malls are all routinely scheduled events contributing to children's education and awareness.
The Cornerstones philosophy helps families by finding ways to instill hope in the minds of both children and their parents.
The core of a good behavior management program is to offer children new behavioral choices that satisfy both the needs of the child and the community. Program staff members make hypotheses about what the "problem" behavior is trying to achieve. Alternative outcomes that address student perceptions are then broken down into sequential steps. The staff then designs interventions that attempt to interrupt negative behavior patterns and create new learning opportunities for students.
In reality, changing negative behavior is never simple or straightforward. The Multidisciplinary program's staff members become a critical variable collaborating on what they experience, how they see the child's behavior and what things work / don't work for them. The collective wisdom and strength of staffs' effort and collaboration is where Cornerstones' behavior management efforts ultimately bear fruit.
There are certain behavior management principles that guide the staffs actions. First, behavior should be managed using a system of natural consequences as well as positive affirmations. Parents must be able to grasp and implement an effective system that should replicate the kinds of expectations children will encounter in the world. Second, rules, limits, expectations and praise should be clearly and consistently reinforced so that a student can have the opportunity to realize that they must change in order to get satisfaction. As long as the world is inconsistent, this gives children the false impression that they might get others to change to their liking. Third, all students will not receive the same consequences for their behavior. individualized behavior management plans must highlight a student's target behavior and learning style. The child's age, emotional development and cognitive ability are all taken into consideration. The exact consequence is then dependent on the learning objective.
Passive Restraints are tools used by the Cornerstones staff to stop or contain violence. Youth are held until their violent behavior subsides. The staff then debriefs the event with the student to extract lessons from the experience. Time out rooms are used for youth who need to be separated from peers while they calm down and collect their thoughts. in extreme instances of violence or emotional distress, the program will have a student screened for psychiatric hospitalization and evaluation. The Cornerstones staff collaborates closely with inpatient caregivers to assure purposeful and informed care prior to the child's return to the program. Hospitalizations tend to diminish over time as children connect with the program.
Direct care staff are trained and supervised in boundaries and human rights. These staff members are also certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI) techniques, an internationally recognized crisis intervention and stress management model.
Both the Cornerstones Day School and Residential School are Private 766 programs fully approved by the Massachusetts Department of Education. The Residential School is also licensed by the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services. Both these agencies provide periodic, in-depth reviews of Cornerstones' programs. Cornerstones works closely with Department of Mental Health, Department of Social Services, and Local Education Authorities in all of the states from which our students come.
Cornerstones Programs actively participate in the following organizations:
Outreach and Aftercare
Cornerstones has seen over the years the importance of outreach, home-based work, and strong aftercare. The reality is that without these three components of care, the gains seen in residential treatment often lose their effect after the child leaves care. Access to services after the residential stay is crucial for involved families.
Cornerstones remains involved with families six months to a full year after discharge. The family outreach worker continues to go out to the home to support families in the transition and to help them maintain the new skills they have developed. The outreach worker also helps support the family in navigating new support services if necessary. Families can continue to call for check-ins to get support and guidance.
Much of the family work at Cornerstones is home based work. We ask that parents allow at least fifty percent of the work to occur in the home. Parents are also asked to take their child home as much as possible. Involved parents take their child home weekends and school vacations. We also ask parents to spend increasing amounts of time with their child at home as their child stabilizes allowing for visits during the week. As discharge approaches, children will spend more time at home than in the program allowing for greater opportunities for skill building and competency and a smother transition.
While families and kids are in our care, we work to develop strong wrap around services for the family that can continue once they are discharged. We find mentors, parent aids, Y memberships, after school programs, and other like services. We do not believe that children and families can continue to experience success without bundling services after discharge.
Please call 978-373-3086